Sexual violence used as war weapon in Tigray, Ethiopia, US says
WASHINGTON, US - The United States believes sexual violence against women and girls is being used as a new tool for war in the Tigray region, with Ethiopia National Defense Forces [ENDF], Eritrea troops, and Amhara regional forces being named as usual suspects.
Multiple reports done by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch among other global rights group indicate that thousands of women have been raped, others killed since November 2020 when Ethiopia unleashed operations at Tigray in pursuit of Tigray People's Liberation Front [TPLF] fighters otherwise known as Tigray Defense Forces [TDF].
Linda Thomas-Greenfield, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said violence against women and girls has escalated to higher levels in Tigray, adding that it's now a new weapon for war in the region, which has lost thousands of people.
"The reprehensible tactic of sexual and gender-based violence continues to be used in areas like Ethiopia's Tigray region where deeply disturbing reports of widespread sexual violence have surfaced, including the military exploiting women and girls at refugee camps," she said.
"On the International Day of Elimination of Sexual violence in conflict, we honor victims and survivors of sexual violence and we urge quick implementation of prevention strategies," Linda added in a statement.
Human Rights Watch accused Eritrea troops is unleashing on innocent women, adding that a number have been raped, tortured, or killed by the army. These reports have been disputed persistently by authorities in Addis Ababa, with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed terming them "faulty".
Already, the United States has slapped with sanctions several top officials in Addis Ababa and Asmara, accusing them of planning and executing mass murders in Tigray. The affected individuals are yet to be publicly named by Washington.
On Friday, Finland Foreign Affairs Minister Pekka Haavisto said his conversation with Addis Ababa authorities in February showcased that the war in Tigray was pre-planned, adding that Abiy's government expressed motives of exterminating Tigrayans.
However, Ethiopia has since accused him of "lacking facts" in the ongoing Tigray crisis, adding that his report was partial. But the government pledged to continue to work with the European Union, which is a major financial partner of Ethiopia.
"War was pre-planned. Even top generals admitted to that. Troops had surrounded Tigray three weeks before hostilities, massed on 4 fronts. Northern Command attack was not caused by war. It was a pretext for launching it," says Rashid Abdi, an analyst in Horn of Africa matters.
Thousands of people gave starved in the Tigray region with the Ethiopian government insisting on its commitment to help dispatch humanitarian aid to affected areas. There is no official record of people who may have died in the crisis but pundits have since termed it "genocide".